It’s been almost a decade since Sylvester Stallone successfully rebooted his career with Rocky Balboa, an unexpectedly poignant sixquel. That movie’s reasonable success counted as a veritable resurrection for Stallone after his Spy Kids 3 phase, and it led Stallone to kickstart his second-most-iconic movie franchise. 2008’s Rambo didn’t make Rocky Balboa dollars, but it made a decent argument for 60-something Stallone as an action star, and led into the Expendables trilogy that you forgot was a trilogy until this sentence.
Stallone is currently riding high on the success of Creed, the Rocky inheritor that has brought the actor some of his best reviews ever. But Creed’s success may have also, inadvertently, ushered in a new post-action phase of Stallone’s career. In a new interview with Variety, the 69-year-old star openly states that he will not return to play John Rambo. This is a turnaround from statements Stallone made almost exactly a year ago, when he was talking about playing the character in a fifth film titled Rambo: Last Blood. Says Stallone now: “The heart’s willing, but the body says, ‘Stay home!’ It’s like fighters that go back for one last round and get clobbered. Leave it to someone else.”
John Rambo originally appeared in First Blood, a relatively low-key action movie about a Vietnam veteran fighting nefarious cops in the Pacific Northwest. “Relatively,” that is, in comparison to Rambo: First Blood, Part 2, the bullet-spraying sequel that sent Rambo back to Vietnam to finally win the war. Then came Rambo III, mainly remembered today because everyone agrees the fourth Rambo was much better than the third Rambo. There is a Rambo TV series in development which would apparently focus on Rambo’s son. Stallone has nothing to do with that. He tells Variety: “I don’t want to cast aspersions but it’s delicate to try to replace a character with his son. I’ve seen the son of Flicka, the son of Tarzan, the son of King Kong. It’s a very difficult premise.” Dear god, to watch Thunderhead, Son of Flicka with Sylvester Stallone!
In the same interview, Stallone says that he’s been talking to Creed director Ryan Coogler about a Creed sequel which would do some kind of Godfather Part II thing, cutting between a present-day story about Adonis Creed and a pre-Rocky IV arc reuniting Rocky with Apollo Creed. He also talks about The Iliad. Read here.